Locksmithing/Schwab Safe Company


I bought a house recently. In the basement was an old safe with the Name Schwab Safe Company, Layfette Indiana. The previous homeowner stated the safe was in the house when they bought it in 1975. From what they gathered it was purchased in 1920's. It has been locked since at least 1975. A local locksmith can open it, but will destroy the door. Plus he charges way too much. To your knowledge is there old records that might have the combonation or a way to open it. It pains me to know that some history might be in there. Thanks for any help or advice.

Hi Tommy,

This is one of the reasons that I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work.

You wouldn't consider taking your car to a mechanic who would indicate that he can change your oil but will ruin the motor doing so, similarly you shouldn't ask anyone to open your safe who indicates that they can do it but will ruin it!

You need a safe technician from a local safe company.

As far as records go - the Schwab Safe Company was acquired by the Sentry group in 2008.   In general, they only maintain the last 10 years worth of records.   You can contact them if you wish to see what they have, however they usually charge an administrative fee of around $50-$100 and there are no guarantees.    In this case I would recommend saving your money if you are going to have to pay someone to open it anyway.

Cost will vary through out the country but you shouldn't be paying more than around $250 to $350 to have it opened - opened AND repaired (operational) should be in the $350 to $500 range AND assumes that it is already a working safe - just without the combination.

I had a guy the other day who neglected to tell me the safe had been sitting outside for over 10 years, and in addition to not having a combination, the thing was rusted shut!   Having the safe opened is NOT a restoration job.    

I would recommend discussing any fees with your safe company to determine EXACTLY what you are paying for and what you should expect for services.   If you have any questions, feel free to run it by me first, but again - anyone indicating ruining and/or destroying the safe doesn't know what they are doing and shouldn't be paid for this type work.

Check your local yellow pages under safes & vaults for a local company.   If you don't have one, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know or recommend in your area.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service Area is Northern California (Fresno to Oregon and Western Nevada)

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]